- Alesis Fusion
image_caption = Alesis Fusion 6HD
synth_name = Alesis Fusion 6HD/8HD
synth_manufacturer = Alesis Corp
synthesis_type = Sample Playback, Virtual Analog, FM and Physical Modeling
polyphony = Dynamic processor allocation varies depending on the complexity of the program.
timbrality = 16 parts in Mix mode; 32 Parts in Song mode
keyboard = 6HD - 61 note semi weighted; 8HD - 88 note fully weighted
filter = 20
lfo = 8 per voice
USBfor file exchange only. MIDIIN/OUT/THRU.
fx = 80 + 3-band parametric EQ
memory = 64MBx2 - Expandable up to 192MBx2, for a total of 384MB via the E3 Memory Upgrade
keys = 61/88
velocity = Yes
aftertouch = Yes
split = Yes
Alesis Fusion is a music production workstation produced by Alesis Corp and was first introduced in early
2005. It competes with the Korg Triton, the Yamaha Motifand the Roland Fantom-X.
Featuring 4 types of synthesis, an 8-channel hard disk recorder, a built-in sampler, effects processing, internal hard disk drive, USB 2.0 connectivity and expandable memory, Fusion is a keyboard synthesiser/workstation that can be used to create professional results in any number of musical styles. Two models are available:
* Fusion 6HD - 61 note semi-weighted keyboard workstation [ [http://www.alesis.com/fusion6hd Fusion 6HD] ]
* Fusion 8HD - 88 note weighted keyboard workstation [ [http://www.alesis.com/fusion8hd Fusion 8HD] ]
Apart from keyboard type, both models are identical and feature:
* Four integrated synthesis types: Sample Playback, Virtual Analog, FM and Physical Modeling.
* 16-bit sampler with comprehensive waveform editing, internal memory expandable from 64MBx2 to 192MBx2, a total of 384MB.
* The Fusion's engine is driven by a Coldfire processor surrounded by 7 DSPs - two TMS320c6713s running at 166MHz providing the synthesis engine and five Wavefront DSPs providing the effects structure.
* Fusion's polyphony, unusually for a workstation, is not fixed, but instead varies with the complexity of its voices; it can be as much as 32-part multitimbral. Alesis have stated the following guidelines: Sample playback: 272 voices; FM: 240 voices; Virtual Analog: 140 voices; Physical Model - Reed: 60 voices; Physical Model - Wind: 48 voices
* 2 bus effects, 4 insert effects.
* 80 effects types in total plus a master 3-band parametric EQ.
* All synthesis engines feature multi-mode filters, up to 8 multi-stage envelopes and 8 multi-wave LFOs per voice. Fusion features six interchangeable "oscillator blocks": two sample-based models; an analogue model; a six-operator, freely-routable FM section; and two simple Physical Models known as "reed" and "wind" with control of bore, breath, etc. The chosen block can feed through a single filter, selectable from some 20 varieties including 1-, 2-, 4-, 6- and 8-pole low-, high- and band-pass filters, a number of voice formant filters, and the RP filter model from the Alesis Ion (added in OS version 1.10).
* External sounds can be processed in real-time through Fusion's filters and effects.
* At the heart of Fusion's synthesis structure is a comprehensive modulation matrix with no preset routes at all. Up to 32 user-configurable routes can be defined, each with its own sample-and-hold circuit and user-defined response curve (or step) for advanced modulation possibilities.
* The Virtual analog (VA) synth features three anti-aliased oscillators with oscillator sync, variable symmetry on sawtooth/triangle and square/pulse waveforms, true Pulse Width modulation (PWM), oscillator cross modulation, ring modulation and white, pink and red (low frequency) noise.
* The sampler features up to 4 multi-samples to be layered and/or velocity switched (similar voice architecture to Akai S-series samples). Unlike most other workstations which replay samples directly from a large bank of immediately-accessible ROM, Fusion's sample-based oscillator block is primarily a sampler which means that all samples must load into the voice engines' sample RAM (64Mb each, expandable to 192Mb each, 384Mb total) before they can be played. A 32Mb multisample takes a couple of seconds to load into RAM.
* PROGRAM mode allows access to individual sounds; MIX mode allows the combination of the different synthesis types for extensive layering and key splits.
* SONG mode accesses the 32-track MIDI sequencer with integrated 8-track audio recording/playback.
* Comprehensive programmable arpeggiator with standard, phrase and drum machine playback. In MIX mode, four arpeggiators are simultaneously available.
* An 80GB hard drive (40GB on earlier models) for patch (program), sample and audio storage. Fusion also supports
CompactFlashand USB2.0 for PC/Mac connectivity. The hard drive is also used as an 8-track hard disk recorder which is integrated into the sequencer. The sequencer itself streams both audio and MIDI data from hard disk, and employs a "virtual tape" paradigm rather than the more commonly found pattern paradigm - a commonly-criticised design decision.
* Onboard external SATA port (not supported).
* Multi-channel audio input and output options in both analog and digital (S/PDIF and ADAT Lightpipe).
* Large 240x128 backlit LCD.
* Four assignable buttons and 360° knobs for hands-on control of synth parameters (or control of external instruments over MIDI).
* Assignable pitch bend wheel, mod wheel, footpedal and footswitch.
* Onboard grand piano based on acclaimed "Holy Grail Piano" by Q Up Arts.
* Comprehensive free to download sound library support by Alesis in collaboration with soundware developer, Hollow Sun.
* Import WAVE files (.wav), AIFF files (.aif and .aiff), Akai S-1/2/3/5/6000, Z4/8, MPC4000 and SoundFonts (.sf2) using the free Alesis Fusion Converter PC/Mac application.
Released in 2005 and following the success of their Quadrasynth and derivatives, Alesis entered the keyboard workstation market place with Fusion, offering four distinct synthesis engines, built-in sampling and integral 32-track sequencing and 8-track hard disk recording.
Its initial release, however, was hampered due to an incomplete operating system (OS) and soundset that had many bugs and problems. This led to many users expressing some anger, using internet forums [ [http://www.promusicproducts.com/forum/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=15 FusionZone] ] to vent their frustrations. It also led to Fusion having a reputation for being 'buggy' and unreliable. However, a series of OS updates has largely fixed almost all of those problems. The latest operating system is OS 1.24 [ [http://www.alesis.com/fusion8hd OS V1.24 (click on DOCS & DOWNLOADS) ] ] dated November 2006 that addresses most of the reported problems and although some users are still unhappy with certain aspects of the instrument, the OS is now generally regarded as stable by the majority of its users. Because of the sub-standard initial V1.00 release (combined with its somewhat unconventional cosmetic styling!), Fusion has struggled to acquire a broader market acceptance compared with its rivals. However, several (arguably controversial) price reductions and other marketing strategies have helped Fusion gain a wider user base.
Some users still complain about the lack of certain functions found on competing 'workstations' (such as, for example, the implementation of true pattern-based sequencing - Fusion's sequencer is linear). Others are still unhappy that certain features that were announced by the manufacturer (such as support for external SATA drives) still remain unsupported and will never be implemented. Overall, however, the general consensus amongst most users seems to be that Fusion as it stands with the latest OS is a very capable and versatile synthesiser/sampler.
Whilst perhaps not as 'polished' as competing products, Fusion's on-board soundset is broad, versatile and capable of covering a lot of musical styles due to its various synth engines. The factory sample ROM soundset is, however, arguably a bit dated and 'retro' and there is much controversy about the stock 'Holy Grail Piano' which people either love or loathe in almost equal proportions. Some users have also been disappointed with the on-board orchestral sounds. Such opinions are, of course, subjective.
In January 2006, Alesis took a unique initiative in collaborating with soundware developers, Hollow Sun [ [http://www.hollowsun.com/ Hollow Sun] ] , to expand the on-board soundset with new material that is free to download from Alesis' website [ [http://www.alesis.com/fusion8hd Free Alesis sound downloads (click on DOCS&DOWNLOADS)] ] and exclusive to Fusion owners. Hollow Sun has also made other sounds available for free download [ [http://www.hollowsun.com/downloads Free Hollow Sun downloads] ] some of which have been contributed by Fusion users. Hollow Sun specialises in 'vintage instruments' and has won 5-star awards for its own libraries and Fusion now carries detailed multi-samples of many classic vintage keyboards, synths and beatboxes [ [http://fusioneer.proboards102.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=display&thread=16 List of vintage instruments available for Fusion] ] .
3rd Party sound designers, Back In Time Records, [ [http://www.backintimerecords.de/bitr022.htm Back In Time Records] ] have also taken the initiative to develop sound libraries for Fusion. Vstream.be [ [http://www.vstream.be/ Vstream] ] is also offering sound banks for the Fusion.
Many people, however, have been attracted to Fusion because of the synthesis power available regardless of the quality (or otherwise) of the factory presets - people who prefer to create their own sounds. However, it has to be said that to get the best from Fusion, it is necessary to have a good understanding of the various synthesis disciplines employed. To assist with this, Alesis produced a series of tutorials that are available for free download [ [http://www.alesis.com/fusion8hd Tutorials (click on DOCS&DOWNLOADS) ] ] .
* [http://www.alesis.com Official Alesis site ]
* [http://www.alesis.com/fusion8hd Audio MP3 demos (click on AUDIO)]
* [http://fusioneer.proboards102.com/index.cgi Fusion Club - Unofficial Forum]
* [http://www.promusicproducts.com/forum/phpBB2/index.php Fusionzone - Unofficial Forum]
* [http://www.hollowsun.com Hollow Sun - Sound Designers]
* [http://www.backintimerecords.de/bitr003.htm Back In Time Records - Sound Designers]
* [http://www.vstream.be Vstream - Sound Designers]
* [http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may06/articles/alesisfusion.htm UK magazine 'Sound On Sound' review]
* [http://www.keyboardmag.com/story.asp?storycode=12647 Keyboard Magazine Review]
* [http://www.keyboardmag.com/story.asp?storycode=17947 Keyboard Magazine 10 tips for the Alesis Fusion]
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